UK Government invites Industry feedback on proposed Gambling levy

26th October 2023

UK operators will have until 14 December to give their views on the introduction of a levy to fund the fight against pathological gaming. Now, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has launched a consultation to find out the views of gaming operators, who will have two months to provide their comments.

The Government awaits proposals on key aspects of the new tax, including its structure, distribution and governance. The transition to the new system presents important complexities and therefore the Government wishes to have the best available evidence when finalising policy decisions to ensure proportionate and effective action. After the consultation closes, the Government will publish a formal response to set out its final decisions and rationale before implementing the changes.

“Regarding its commitment to address gambling issues, the UK’s Betting and Gaming Council has taken a proactive position, comments Giada Benazzi, an international expert at Gaming Report. “Not only have BGC members already allocated £100 million over four years for RET (Research, Education and Treatment) services, but they have also decided to go further, promising a further increase to £110 million by March 2024. This funding, collected through voluntary contributions, goes exclusively to accredited charities, representing a vital network that currently supports approximately 85 per cent of problem gamblers in treatment in the country. It is interesting to notice”, Benazzi continues, “that although the funds come from the gambling operators, they have no influence on how they are allocated or spent, thus ensuring that the priority remains the integrity and effectiveness of treatment and prevention”.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has expressed its support for a new obligatory tax, a proposal they made to the government even before the White Paper was published. For more than two decades, the sector represented by the BGC has been the main source of funding for Research, Education and Treatment (RET) services. However, the board strongly argues that this tax should be applied extensively to all gaming operators, including the National Lottery, without undermining ‘good causes’. They also stress that products offered by the National Lottery, such as scratch cards and instant win games, are not exempt from the risk of being used by problem gamblers.

The BGC also underlines the importance of a proportionate distribution of the tax charge, proposing lower percentage contributions for land-based operators, including independent betting shops located on main commercial arteries, which have experienced serious difficulties in the post-pandemic recovery period and currently face significantly higher fixed costs.

Finally, the board insists on the necessity of strict control in the distribution of the funds collected through this tax, ensuring that they are only allocated to charities and organisations providing genuine RET services. This is essential to ensure long-term sustainable funding and to protect existing third sector providers, who do indispensable work and who may currently be at risk.